Few private organizations can match the Southern Poverty Law Center when it comes to hypocrisy and malign influence, though Media Matters for America might be close. In a development shocking only to its leftist true believers, the founder and most prominent public face of the group, Morris Dees, was fired for unspecified reasons. The Montgomery Advertiser, the home town paper where it is located, reported:
SPLC President Richard Cohen said in a statement Dees' dismissal over his misconduct was effective on Wednesday, March 13. When pressed for details on what led to the termination, the organization declined to elaborate.
"As a civil rights organization, the SPLC is committed to ensuring that the conduct of our staff reflects the mission of the organization and the values we hope to instill in the world," Cohen said in the emailed statement. "When one of our own fails to meet those standards, no matter his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action."
Dees, 82, co-founded the Montgomery-based organization in 1971.
"It was not my decision, what they did," Dees said when reached by phone. "I wish the center the absolute best. Whatever reasons they had of theirs, I don't know."
Instead of any transparency and accountability, the most the SPLC would even hint at was:
Dees' termination is one of several steps taken by the organization this week, Cohen said.
"Today we announced a number of immediate, concrete next steps we're taking, including bringing in an outside organization to conduct a comprehensive assessment of our internal climate and workplace practices, to ensure that our talented staff is working in the environment that they deserve — one in which all voices are heard and all staff members are respected," Cohen said.
This implies sexism or racism, quite possibly sexual harassment, but is tantalizingly vague. But The Advertiser long has highlighted related issues:
A 1994 Montgomery Advertiser series provided a deep look into the organization controlled by the multimillionaire Dees, illustrating his near-singular control over the organization and its mammoth budget.
The series, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, revealed a figure seen as heroic by some and single-minded by others. Dees' critics said he was more concerned with fundraising than litigating.